Sewing these dresses using vintage patterns is not only fun — it can also be a challenge. A few of the patterns I’ve purchased no longer had their instructions, but even when they did, the instructions are quite different from modern versions. I always end up making changes to the garment (usually to create a more finished look inside), and I enjoy the process of figuring out or just altering the construction. My favorite dresses are from 1940s patterns, many of which are precut, unprinted tissue with perforated symbols. My 40s dresses are more summery, so I’ll post pictures of them next year.
This first dress is a classic style from the 70s, and the pattern is still easy to find on Etsy and ebay (Simplicity 8429, size 3/4). I try to select fabrics that evoke the period, so I have also made this dress in white gauze with crocheted trim, in rainbow-colored tie dye, and one using an Indian print bedspread. A lot of my patterns from the 50s have a natural waistline, but I have always loved this shape that falls from the yoke. You don’t have to worry so much about fit, the dresses are comfy, and this one is nice and full for little girls who like to twirl.
The second dress is a newspaper mail-order pattern from the 60s (Marian Martin 9285, size 4) which is much more rare. The bow is pretty cute, and I also like the 3/4 sleeves. Next time I would like to make this pattern in a slightly heavier fabric to give it a little more structure, but I think the polka dots are sweet. The back is plain, without pleats.